Open-Access Mega-Journals and the
Future of Scholarly Communication
Stephen Pinfield
University of Sheffield
Acknowledgeme...
The Importance of Mega-Journals?
• Joseph Esposito (2010) argued, “I
think PLoS One points to the
future of academic publi...
Open-Access Mega-Journals Project
http://oamj.org/
• 2-year collaboration between
Sheffield and Loughborough
(Nov 2015-Oct...
Defining ‘Mega-Journals’
• Fully-open access
• Wide scope e.g.
– PLOS ONE covers all science, technology and medicine (STM...
Björk Criteria*
• Primary criteria
– Big publishing volume or aiming
for it
– Peer review of scientific
soundness only
– B...
Journals Meeting all Primary Criteria
2014 articles
(Scopus)
PLOS ONE 31864
Scientific Reports 3286
BMJ Open 1143
BMC Rese...
Output
• Output dominated by PLOS ONE but PLOS ONE showing a decline 2013-15
• Nature Scientific Reports increasing over t...
Mega-Journals as a Disruptive
Innovation: Economics?
• Economies of scale created by a single set of
processes and technol...
Highly-selective
title(s)
Potential Tiered System
9
Moderately-
selective mega-
journal
Financial
subsidy
Reputational
sub...
Economics: Questions
• Are mega-journals necessary to create economies of
scale?
• Are not multiple tiers likely with mega...
Mega-Journals as a Disruptive
Innovation: Quality Control?
• Emphasis on pre-publication assessment of
scientific “soundne...
Quality Control: Questions
• Peer review ‘lite’? Leading to lower quality standards?
• Is there an equivalent of “soundnes...
Mega-Journals as a Disruptive
Innovation: The Role of the Journal?
• Reverses the 50-year trend of greater
specialisation ...
The Role of the Journal: Questions
• Are these developments (encouraging
interdisciplinarity, de-emphasising the
importanc...
0
200
400
600
800
1000
1200
1400
1600
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Articles
Year
BMC Public
Health
BMC Genomics...
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50
Cumulative%ofallarticles
Citations
Cumulative F...
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50
Cumulative%ofarticles
Citations
Cumulative Freq...
2011-13 (120 Articles) June 2014-Current (2065 Articles)
Institution n % Institution n %
1 The Johns Hopkins School of Med...
Project Next Steps
http://oamj.org/
• Complete literature review
and bibliometrics analysis
• Carry out interviews of
publ...
Acknowledgements: Open-Access
Mega-Journals Project
University of Sheffield
• Stephen Pinfield (PI)
• Simon Wakeling (RA)
...
References
Binfield, P. (2013). Open access megajournals: Have they changed everything? In UBC
Open meeting. PowerPoint pr...
Prochain SlideShare
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Open-Access Mega-Journals (OAMJ): initial results presented at 2016 RLUK conference

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Stephen Pinfield, lead investigator on the AHRC-funded Open-Access Mega-Journals (OAMJ) project, presented the initials results of the OAMJ research looking at the characteristics of open-access mega-journals (and their impact on scholarly communication patterns) last Wednesday at the RLUK conference (9th-11th March 2016) in London.

Further information about the OAMJ project conducted by Sheffield University and Loughborough University can be found at: http://oamj.org/
Follow us on Twitter at: ‎@OAMJ_Project

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Open-Access Mega-Journals (OAMJ): initial results presented at 2016 RLUK conference

  1. 1. Open-Access Mega-Journals and the Future of Scholarly Communication Stephen Pinfield University of Sheffield Acknowledgements to Claire Creaser, Jenny Fry, Valérie Spezi, Simon Wakeling, Peter Willett
  2. 2. The Importance of Mega-Journals? • Joseph Esposito (2010) argued, “I think PLoS One points to the future of academic publishing” • Richard Wellen (2013) identifies OA mega-journals as having (some of) the characteristics of “disruptive innovation” with the potential to contribute to major change • Jean Claude Guédon (2015) in commenting on the future of scholarly communication, stated, “Subsidized mega-journals would be the best system…” • But critics* have seen mega- journals as a “dumping ground” for lower quality outputs which reduce the valuable filtering of content provided conventional journals • Some have even claimed publishing in them is “career suicide” for researchers (particularly ECRs) • There have been suggestions that mega-journals are a cynical money-making venture (*Often unattributed comments reporting others) 2
  3. 3. Open-Access Mega-Journals Project http://oamj.org/ • 2-year collaboration between Sheffield and Loughborough (Nov 2015-Oct 2017 ) • Funded by AHRC • Investigating: “The principal characteristics of the emergent open-access ‘mega-journal’ phenomenon and its significance for the academic research community and beyond” • Using quantitative and qualitative methods 3
  4. 4. Defining ‘Mega-Journals’ • Fully-open access • Wide scope e.g. – PLOS ONE covers all science, technology and medicine (STM) disciplines – AIP Advances covers all of Physics • Particular approach to quality control – Pre-publication peer review based on scientific “soundness” rather than “subjective” assessments of “novelty” or “importance” – Post-publication metrics – the scientific community ‘decides’ novelty and importance by use, citation, etc • Large scale – e.g. PLOS ONE (launched in 2006) – now the largest journal in the world, 31,864 articles in 2014 – but many mega-journals are newer and are not large scale (yet) 4
  5. 5. Björk Criteria* • Primary criteria – Big publishing volume or aiming for it – Peer review of scientific soundness only – Broad subject area – Full open access with APC • Secondary criteria – Moderate APC – High-prestige publisher – Academic editors – Reusable graphics and data – Altmetrics, commenting – Portable reviews – Rapid publication • Useful working definition but clearly some areas subjective – What constitutes… • a “big publishing volume”? • a “broad subject area”? • a “moderate APC”? • “rapid publication”? – Why exclude sponsored titles? (*Björk, 2015; Based on Norman, 2012; Binfield, 2013) 5
  6. 6. Journals Meeting all Primary Criteria 2014 articles (Scopus) PLOS ONE 31864 Scientific Reports 3286 BMJ Open 1143 BMC Research Notes 915 SpringerPlus 738 AIP Advances 542 PeerJ 474 Medicine 360 SAGE Open 323 F1000 277 FEBS open bio 120 Biology Open n/a CMAJ Open n/a Collabra n/a Cureus n/a Heliyon n/a Journal of Engineering n/a QScience Connect n/a Royal Society Open Science n/a SAGE Open Medicine n/a Journals Meeting all but Review Criterion 2014 articles (Scopus) Scientific World Journal 3617 Nature Communications 2402 Cell Reports 713 eLife 518 G3: Genes | Genomes | Genetics 389 Physical Review X 269 IEEE Access 107 Chemistry Central Journal 70 Open Biology 68 Elementa n/a Modern Languages Open n/a Open Library of the Humanities n/a Open Linguistics n/a Palgrave communications n/a Science Advances n/a Titles and Article Numbers 6
  7. 7. Output • Output dominated by PLOS ONE but PLOS ONE showing a decline 2013-15 • Nature Scientific Reports increasing over the same period • Other titles growing more slowly 0 5000 10000 15000 20000 25000 30000 35000 40000 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Elementa Journal of Engineering IEEE Access Royal Society Open Science FEBS Open Bio Biology Open SageOpen G3 PeerJ AIP advances Springer plus BMJ Open Scientific reports PLOS ONE volumeofarticles Total number of articles published in Björk's 14 mega- journals • PLOS ONE, exemplar mega-journal, launched in 2006 • Large number of other titles launched 2011- 7 (Source: Björk, 2015)
  8. 8. Mega-Journals as a Disruptive Innovation: Economics? • Economies of scale created by a single set of processes and technologies replacing multiple ones • Enables a tiered scholarly publishing system • Addresses the problem of funding the costs of high selectivity in OA an environment • Potentially reduces the ‘submission-rejection spiral’ (benefits the wider research community) • Low barriers to entry but creating recognised brands challenging 8
  9. 9. Highly-selective title(s) Potential Tiered System 9 Moderately- selective mega- journal Financial subsidy Reputational subsidy
  10. 10. Economics: Questions • Are mega-journals necessary to create economies of scale? • Are not multiple tiers likely with mega-journals occupying the lower tiers? • Does the tiered model create particular conditions for conflict of interest? • Is there a particular danger of ‘Predatory’ journals in the mega-journal space? • Will not mega-journals rely on pre-existing publisher brands? 10
  11. 11. Mega-Journals as a Disruptive Innovation: Quality Control? • Emphasis on pre-publication assessment of scientific “soundness” – reduces subjectivity of judgements of “novelty” and “importance” • Necessitates role of post-publication metrics to assess “importance” • Shifts in the role and power of gatekeepers in the scientific community 11
  12. 12. Quality Control: Questions • Peer review ‘lite’? Leading to lower quality standards? • Is there an equivalent of “soundness” in the Humanities? • What are post-publication metrics telling us currently about “importance”? • Is there a danger of increasing (over) reliance on metrics as part of creeping managerialism in HEIs? • Dispensing with the ‘wisdom of the expert’ for the ‘wisdom of the crowd’? ie assessment of gatekeepers replaced by metrics of subject community behavioural responses (usage, citations etc) 12
  13. 13. Mega-Journals as a Disruptive Innovation: The Role of the Journal? • Reverses the 50-year trend of greater specialisation in journal scope • Creates new potential for interdisciplinarity • Points away from the journal to the article • Creates the potential for ‘overlay’ or ‘meta’ journal service • Improves knowledge exchange beyond the research community 13
  14. 14. The Role of the Journal: Questions • Are these developments (encouraging interdisciplinarity, de-emphasising the importance of the journal, creating the potential for overlay services, and enhancing KE) likely to occur regardless of mega- journals? • Are there fundamental disciplinary differences in relation to mega-journals? 14
  15. 15. 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Articles Year BMC Public Health BMC Genomics BMC Cancer BMC Bioinformatics BMC Research Notes How big is ‘Mega’? • BMC Research notes is broader in scope, and reviews only for scientific soundness, yet has a lower output since its launch than four other BMC journals • Many mega- journals are still comparatively small 15
  16. 16. 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 Cumulative%ofallarticles Citations Cumulative Frequency of Citations for articles published 2011-2013 Nature Scientific Reports (3,601) Nature Communications (2,826) Nature (3,180) Mega-journals and Quality • Nature: Very Highly Selective: JIF* = 41.456 • Nature Communications: Highly Selective: JIF = 11.474 • Nature Scientific Reports: Mega-Journal: JIF = 5.578 • Over half of all Nature articles have been cited >50 times, compared to only 3.5% of Nature Scientific Reports articles • Illustrates the impact of selectivity on citation frequency *JIF = Journal Impact Factor16
  17. 17. 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 Cumulative%ofarticles Citations Cumulative Frequency of Citations for Articles Published 2011-2013 AIP Advances (1,041) BMC Research Notes (1,894) BMJ Open (1,784) PLOS ONE (69,539) SAGE Open (391) Nature Scientific Reports (3,601) Comparing Citation Rates of Mega-Journals • Among mega-journals publishing between 2011- 13, Nature Scientific Reports has the lowest proportion of infrequently cited articles • Is there a correlation with publisher reputation? • To what extent are mega- journals “dumping grounds”? • How do we measure “quality”? 17
  18. 18. 2011-13 (120 Articles) June 2014-Current (2065 Articles) Institution n % Institution n % 1 The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine 8 6.7% China Medical University Taichung 171 8.2% 2 Universite Pierre et Marie Curie 8 6.7% Chang Gung University 65 3.1% 3 Hospital Universitari de Bellvitge 8 6.7% National Yang-Ming University Taiwan 60 2.9% 4 Universite Paris Descartes 8 6.7% Sun Yat-Sen University 56 2.7% 5 Universite Paris 7- Denis Diderot 7 5.8% Chang Gung Memorial Hospital 53 2.6% 6 Inserm 6 5.0% Peking Union Medical College 49 2.4% 7 Hopital Pitie Salpetriere 6 5.0% Sichuan University 43 2.1% 8 Hopital Henri Mondor 6 5.0% Veterans General Hospital-Taipei 40 1.9% 9 Massachusetts General Hospital 6 5.0% National Taiwan University Hospital 39 1.9% 10 Universitat de Barcelona 5 4.2% China Medical University Shenyang 36 1.7% Country n % Country n % 1 United States 45 37.5% China 847 40.9% 2 France 31 25.8% Taiwan 329 15.9% 3 Spain 20 16.7% United States 217 10.5% 4 Japan 9 7.5% South Korea 167 8.1% 5 Canada 5 4.2% Japan 113 5.5% 6 Taiwan 4 3.3% Italy 87 4.2% 7 Switzerland 3 2.5% France 76 3.7% 8 United Kingdom 3 2.5% Spain 69 3.3% 9 India 2 1.7% United Kingdom 54 2.6% 10 Italy 2 1.7% Germany 50 2.4% Top 10 Contributing Author Institutional Affiliations and Nationalities for Medicine • Medicine (Kluwer) transitioned from a highly- selective subscription journal to OA mega-journal in 2014 • Comparing contributing author institutions and nationalities before and after the change, the number of contributions from Western authors increased • But this increase is dwarfed by contributions from Chinese authors. The dramatic increase in publishing output is primarily driven by Chinese academics • Initial analysis suggests this is true for a majority of mega-journals 18
  19. 19. Project Next Steps http://oamj.org/ • Complete literature review and bibliometrics analysis • Carry out interviews of publishers and editors • Set up disciplinary focus groups (your help would be appreciated) • Prepare large-scale author survey • Continue to interact with different stakeholder communities and tease out the implications for different groups 19
  20. 20. Acknowledgements: Open-Access Mega-Journals Project University of Sheffield • Stephen Pinfield (PI) • Simon Wakeling (RA) • Peter Willett (Co-I) Loughborough University • Claire Creaser (Co-I) • Jenny Fry (Co-I) • Valérie Spezi (RA) http://oamj.org/ @OAMJ_Project
  21. 21. References Binfield, P. (2013). Open access megajournals: Have they changed everything? In UBC Open meeting. PowerPoint presentation. Björk, B.-C. (2015). Have the “mega-journals” reached the limits to growth? PeerJ, 3, e981. http://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.981 Esposito, J. (2010). Comment: PLoS’ squandered opportunity — Their problems with the path of least resistance. Retrieved from http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2010/04/27/plos-squandered-opportunity-the- problem-with-pursuing-the-path-of-least-resistance/ Guédon, J.-C. (2015). [GOAL] Re: Elsevier: Trying to squeeze the virtual genie back into the physical bottle. Retrieved November 24, 2015, from http://mailman.ecs.soton.ac.uk/pipermail/goal/2015-May/003377.html Norman, F. (2012). Megajournals. Retrieved November 23, 2015, from http://occamstypewriter.org/trading-knowledge/2012/07/09/megajournals/ Wellen, R. (2013). Open access, megajournals, and MOOCs: On the political economy of academic unbundling. SAGE Open, 3(4), 2158244013507271–. http://doi.org/10.1177/2158244013507271 21

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